Your workforce as your biggest driver in the business14/06/2016
“Everyone is responsible for delivering our brand positioning, and everything we do either builds or undermines that brand.”
Arun Sarin, CEO Vodafone
As the public becomes increasingly cynical about big business and corporate behaviour, we are now seeing a demonstrable effect on financial success. Consider the response to Mondelez International not paying corporation tax and shrinking the size of Cadbury products in an attempt to hide what is in real terms a price increase (a far cry from Cadbury’s Quaker roots). Indeed, Cadbury’s sales fell by £6m when they reduced the number of their Crème Eggs in boxes from six to five. Conversely, consider the story of the Pizza Express manager who gave two free meals to a lady whose card was declined and the couple who offered to pay for her. Or the Aldi worker who carried an elderly man’s shopping home for him. We can’t quantify the financial benefits to these brands but the stories went viral creating huge public warmth towards both organisations. And this doesn’t begin to consider the positive conversation that can be circulating in private networks.
We now find ourselves entering a further shift away from the traditional marcoms methodology and into a world where our behaviour is more influential than anything we can say and (more crucially) our workforce is our most powerful communications tool, being made up of those trusted with the real inside knowledge. The opportunity then, is to turn our workforce into an army of brand advocates – to literally build business success from the inside, out.
However, the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer found that (like the general public) just 65% of workers trust their employers to do the right thing.
Surprisingly, many employers are still not placing a priority on internal engagement, but with the now constant presence of mobile and social communications employees are in direct contact with consumers (via customer service channels but also their own private social networks) with the opportunity to create a significant amount of noise. The challenge now is to ensure that this noise is positive. But how? Some key questions to begin with:
• Do you have a clearly defined brand purpose?
• Does employee engagement feature in your business priorities?
• Does everyone in your organisation understand your brand?
• What does that means in terms of expected behaviours across all areas?
• Do you measure engagement over and above satisfaction?
It is a fact that companies with strong ethical beliefs/practices have more engaged and productive employees. Indeed, 84% feel actively motivated to perform for such organisations, compared with just 62% of employees in organisations with less visible ethical standpoints.¹ In turn, more engaged employees add greater value during working hours, and act as powerful brand ambassadors outside of them. We only need to look at the poster-child of employee engagement, John Lewis, and their continual rise in a floundering high street, to be sure of this. Never has there been a greater need to recognise your workforce as your most powerful platform for brand activation - to build trust internally and then use your staff to rebuild the public perception of your brand. But still, some of the largest global brands are failing to recognise the importance of investment in employee engagement – at least to any meaningful scale. (Especially when compared with consumer facing comms channels.)
So we will leave you with one final question, as your workforce is your most powerful communications channel, do you allocate adequate budget to really make a difference?
¹ 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer